Acquiring Needed Satellite Communications: The Need to Better Balance Military and Commercial
Air War College -Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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Combat operations today demand the movement of vast amounts of information to see the enemy, track the enemy, command and control forces, support forces, and take the operational picture to US decision makers in all branches and at all levels. These requirements make satellite communications essential and, in the current environment, in extremely high demand. The cumulative size of all the communications paths, a measure expressed colloquially as bandwidth, is not enough to meet the needs. Regarding planning and executing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, one perspective was planners still spoke in terms of megabits per second, while forces in the field needed gigabits per second. For these operations, satellite communications are vital. Satellites provide a considerable amount of the bandwidth sought by warfighters, especially in many of the remote, infrastructure deficient regions in which the nation employs combat forces today. Past research assessed the imperative of military capability and articulated the importance of satellite communications to situational awareness, command, and control of forces. The conclusion was the more expeditionary the services become, the more severe the negative impact will be if satellite communications are lost. The position of this paper is the US Air Force needs additional military satellite communications to meet demands and mitigate risks. This paper will look at the current environment and discuss the problems the US Air Force and Department of Defense DoD face in providing communications to the warfighter.